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Cyclone Ockhi

Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Ockhi
Very severe cyclonic storm (IMD scale)
Category 3 (Saffir–Simpson scale)
Ockhi 2017-12-02 Suomi NPP.jpg
Cyclone Ockhi nearing its peak intensity in the Arabian Sea, west of India on 2 December
Formed November 29, 2017
Dissipated December 6, 2017
Highest winds 3-minute sustained: 155 km/h (95 mph)
1-minute sustained: 185 km/h (115 mph)
Lowest pressure 976 hPa (mbar); 28.82 inHg
Fatalities 90 direct, 97 missing
Damage > $442 million (2017 USD)
Areas affected Sri Lanka, South India and Maldives
Part of the 2017 North Indian Ocean cyclone season

Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Ockhi[nb 1] was the most intense tropical cyclone in the Arabian Sea since Cyclone Megh in 2015. The third and the strongest storm of the 2017 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, Ockhi originated as a low pressure area in the Gulf of Thailand on November 21.[2] While traversing the southern part of the Bay of Bengal, favorable conditions enabled it to consolidate into a deep depression. As a deep depression, it caused damage to property and life in Sri Lanka on November 29.[2] Due to moisture and warmer temperatures between Sri Lanka and Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) in mainland India, it intensified into a Cyclonic Storm on November 30.[2]

While near Kanyakumari in mainland India, Cyclone Ockhi changed its path and headed towards Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea, while intensifying.[3] Although it headed away from the coast of mainland India, it caused severe damages to structures and property and also claiming the lives of at least 47 people[4]in the Southern parts of Tamilnadu and Kerala in India.[5][2] Ockhi caused landfalls in Lakshadweep on December 2. The cyclone uprooted coconut trees and caused extensive damages to houses, power lines and other infrastructure in the islands.[6] Ockhi dissipated near the south coast of Gujarat in India on December 6, due to prevailing conditions, even before entering the coast.[7]

Cyclone Ockhi is noted for its very unusual course, originating in the Gulf of Thailand and ending near the coast of Gujarat in western India, traveling nearly 4000 nautical miles.[2] In its entire course, Cyclone Ockhi left a trail of massive destruction in Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep, South India and Maldives as it strengthened from a depression to a mature cyclone. Though it rapidly weakened in its final stages over the Arabian sea, it caused heavy rains along the western coast of India, particularly in Maharashtra and Gujarat. More than 39 fatalities were caused by Ockhi in India, and it left hundreds of people, mainly fishermen, missing.

Meteorological history

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm, according to the Saffir–Simpson scale

On November 20, 2017, the remnant energy of Tropical Storm Kirogi led to the formation of a new low-pressure area over the Gulf of Thailand.[8] Over the next several days, the system moved into the Bay of Bengal and slowly drifted westwards, but the storm was unable to organize significantly due to unfavorable conditions.[8] On November 29, the storm organized into depression just off the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, and the India Meteorological Department gave the storm the identifier BOB 07.[9] Due to the storm's rapidly consolidating low level circulation center, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert on the system, shortly before classifying it as Tropical Cyclone 03B on November 29.[10] The IMD followed suit, upgrading the storm to a Deep Depression, and soon afterwards to Cyclonic Storm Ockhi. The storm tracked along Sri Lanka's southwestern and western coastline, towards the west-northwest, around the southern verge of a subtropical ridge located over India.[11] Owing to highly favorable conditions, the storm displayed a thick convective ring, surrounding a well-defined eye feature on the same day.[12] The storm tracked westwards and intensified further into a Severe Cyclone Storm, early on December 1.[13] Soon afterwards, Ockhi intensified further into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm.[14]

Cyclone Ockhi rapidly undergoing extratropical transition off the southwest coast of Gujarat.

As Ockhi moved further into the Arabian Sea, it travel through an area of sea surface temperatures of 31° C (89° F) and decreasing wind shear; a 23 mi (37 km) eye became visible on satellite imagery, prompting the JTWC to upgrade it to a Category 3-equivalent cyclone early on December 2.[15] On December 4, analysis showed that Ockhi was maintaining a source aloft, but there was restricted outflow on the western edge, due to a deepening trough advancing rapidly from the west.[16] Increasing vertical wind shear along with a deep layered subtropical ridge to the east steered it to north-northeast, and dry air intrusion from the west gradually weakened the system.[17] On the following day, the storm quickly became disorganized as it encountered increasingly unfavorable conditions, including high wind shear. As Ockhi became embedded within a deep mid-latitude trough, the storm rapidly underwent an extratropical transition.[18] Dry and cold air from the subcontinent rapidly weakened the storm, and it was last noted as a well-marked low-pressure area over the Gulf of Cambay on December 6.[19]


Sri Lanka

Despite international weather reports on November 26–27 warning of a possible storm condition over parts of the island, the Meteorology Department of Sri Lanka issued no warning on the lead-up to the cyclone, dismissing in a statement on November 28 reports of any possible adverse weather systems forming off the country's coast, citing insufficient data to arrive at such a conclusion.[20] The Department instead predicted rain of 75 mm (3.0 in) or more over various parts of the island over the November 28–30 period.[20]


The Maldives Meteorological Centre predicted heavy rain and strong winds across the country's atolls, particularly those in the north and center of the island chain, over the day.[21][22] It issued a Yellow Alert warning on November 30 for the area between Haa Alif Atoll and Kaafu Atoll between 10:30am and 03:30pm on December 1, later extending this to 08:00pm.[22][23]


Nearly 220 families were rehabilitated from the coastal areas of Kochi to escape the fury of the rough sea following the passage of cyclone Ockhi as Chellanam bore the brunt of a tidal wave attack. Nearly 100 houses, mainly in Puthenthodu and Baazar areas, were inundated as schools were turned into rehabilitation camps. As many as 180 families in Chellanam, 17 in Kannamaly and 18 in Edavanakadu were shifted to rehabilitation centres and all essentials including medicine and food were being made available at the camps.[24] The Government of Maharashtra announced a holiday on December 5 for schools in the MMR and in some other selective districts, for safety purposes.[25]As Cyclone Ockhi threatened the Gujarat coast on Tuesday, more than 5,000 people were shifted to safer locations and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams deployed in vulnerable places. Fishermen were warned not to put out to sea and those out fishing were called back. Schools and college were closed.[26]


Sri Lanka

Many trees were uprooted due to strong winds in Colombo.

The system produced heavy rainfall and gale-force winds in Sri Lanka, initially affecting the southern coastline, with Matara and the general Matara District in particular experiencing wind speeds of 70–80 km/h (40–50 mph) and bearing the brunt of the cyclone.[27][28] Falling trees and damage to power transmission lines resulted in power outages in affected areas, with Matara, Galle and Ambalangoda among the worst-affected.[28] Colombo and its suburbs, along with the southwestern and western coastal regions too were affected, with many parts of the capital city and its suburbs experiencing power outages and property damage; several roads were obstructed by falling trees and power lines, including that leading to the Supreme Court complex at Aluthkade.[28] Due to the poor visibility caused by rain and attendant wind, BIA was prompted to divert two SriLankan Airlines flights to Mattala early on November 30.[29] The Meteorological Department issued a Red Alert early on November 30, with schools in the Western, Central, Southern and Uva provinces given a holiday on the same day by order of the Ministry of Education, postponing exams meant to be held on the day.[21][30]

On December 1, several government agencies issued a series of warnings, with the country's Disaster Management Center issuing a flood warning for areas along the Nilwala, Gin and Kalu rivers, while the Irrigation Department reported Millakanda (along the Kalu), Baddegama (on the Gin) and Panadugama (on the Nilwala) as areas particularly prone to floods, with Baddegama and Panadugama already experiencing minor localized flooding.[31] The National Building Research Organisation issued a warning to the Kalutara District and its surroundings (with a focus on Palindanuwara, Bulathsinhala, Ingiriya and Agalawatta) in particular, predicting landslides and sinkhole formation.[31] The Department of Meteorology issued heavy rain warnings for the Northern, North-Central, Uva, Southern, Western, Sabaragamuwa and Central provinces, and an additional one to fishing communities warning of rough seas and winds upto 70 km/h (40 mph).[31] On December 2, police and firefighters were formally joined by the Sri Lanka Navy- followed by the army and air force- in search and rescue operations, with the aid of state agencies and the Sri Lanka Red Cross.[32][33]

On December 2, 2017, the cyclone moved away from Sri Lanka towards the western coast of India.[34]


Several seafaring vessels were capsized on November 30[22]:

  • a cargo boat off Cinamon Dhonveli island in Kaafu Atoll (3 rescued),
  • a cargo boat off Taj Coral Reef in Kaafu Atoll 20195 (3 rescued),
  • a speedboat off Maaungoodhoo island in Shaviyani Atoll (13 rescued).

In all, 14 separate incidents were reported in the Maldivian seas as a result of Ockhi's effects.[22]

As of December 3, houses across 62 islands in the Maldives had been damaged by the fringe effects of Ockhi; 36 islands had experienced rain-induced floods while a further 4 had been inundated by storm tides.[22][35] The Maldives National Defence Force was assigned to rescue and flood draining efforts predominantly on islands where the local citizenry could not manage on their own; the police too provided aid.[22][35]


Cyclone Ockhi crossed the sea near Kanyakumari, the southern tip of mainland India, on November 30. Though it changed direction near Kanyakumari and headed towards the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea, it caused havoc and destruction in the southernmost districts of Tamilnadu and Kerala, particularly Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu and Thiruvananthapuram District of Kerala.[36][37][38] Damage throughout Kerala was initially estimated at Rs 1843 crore. [39] In Tamil Nadu damage was initially estimated at greater than Rs 1 lakh crores.[40] [41] As a Deep Depression, the system lashed the coast of Tamil Nadu[42] and Kerala, damaging infrastructure and taking the lives of 34 more people.[43] An estimated 52 in Kerala and 11 in Tamil Nadu people died in the cyclone with many others missing.[44] On December 2, the cyclone hit the Lakshadweep islands.[44]

The Southern Railway announced partial cancellation of train services between Nagercoil and Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and Thiruvananthapuram, and Nagercoil and Tirunelveli due to heavy rain caused by Cyclone Ockhi.[45] Torrential overnight rains accompanied by squally winds lashed the district, uprooting 550 trees and 950 electric poles disrupting normal life. Many parts suffered power cuts even as educational institutions remained closed in the districts of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Viruthunagar and Thanjavur.[46] The Indian Navy and Coast Guard searched for stranded fishermen in Coastal areas of Lakshadweep. More than 400 people were rescued and evacuated, few cadavers were found.[47] Coastal areas of Ernakulam District in Kerala were affected by the cyclone. Around 2,648 people were evacuated to seven shelters over Kochi.[48] The cyclone claimed five lives in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu on November 30, caused by falling trees.[49] The cyclone went on to hit Lakshadweep islands on December 2. The three major islands of Lakshadweep—Minicoy, Kalpeni, and Kavaratti—suffered major damages. Around 500 houses suffered damage, several coconut trees got uprooted and electric and communication lines were disrupted due to the calamity in Minicoy island. An estimated ₹200 crore loss has been reported following the collapse of the ‘breakwater’—a barrier built out into the sea to protect a coast from the force of waves at Kalpeni. A desalination plant at Kavaratti was damaged.[50] The cyclone Ockhi then moved away from Lakshadweep towards the western coast of India on December 4, bringing rare rainfall in December to Mumbai and other nearby areas.[51] In Goa, beach shacks were hit by high tides caused by the cyclone Ockhi. Several important beaches in the state were affected due to the sudden ingress of water, which resulted in inundation of the shacks and soil erosion. Almost 50 shacks in Morjim, Mandrem, Arambol and Querim beaches in Pernem taluka were damaged. In Bardez taluka, only soil erosion at Anjuna and Baga beaches and damage to a retaining wall at Coco beach in Nerul was reported.[52] Mumbai witnessed a delay of more than 40% flights on December 4 and 5 due to low visibility at the airport in the wake of cyclone Ockhi. According to data presented by Ixigo, 262 flights were delayed from a total of 587 domestic flights and 118 of 357 international flights were delayed at the Mumbai airport on Wednesday.[53] Unseasonal rain and inclement weather in the wake of cyclone Ockhi had severely impacted grape farms in Maharashtra. Nashik district received 125.5 mm of rain on due to the impact of Ockhi.[54] Cyclone Ockhi dumped more than 80,000 kg or 80 tonnes of waste from the ocean on the Mumbai beaches, reveal estimates released by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) solid waste management (SWM) department.[55]

In Gujarat, parts of southern region received significant rains with the highest rainfall in Umargam of 90 mm, causing damages to vegetables and banana crops. Strong winds of 25 km/h were also recorded. The cloudy and chilly weather had also affected people and crops.[56]


Sri Lanka

On December 3, the government allocated Rs 170 million from the national insurance trust fund for relief efforts targeting affected citizens, distributed among each divisional secretariat affected.[57] Rs 10,000 was pledged as an initial allowance for each family affected to a significant degree by Ockhi.[57][58] A parliamentary debate held on the same day saw the government pledge to upgrade the country's meteorological department with an automated network of rain gauges, and announce state compensation for damaged housing and businesses, as well as for domestic appliances damaged by the cyclone or resultant effects, and compensation for lives lost.[58] The Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) distributed the first batch of humanitarian relief to the displaced Sri Lankans in Hanola and Padukka villages in Colombo[59].The humanitarian relief included 8,00 food parcels, 800 cooking and personal hygiene substances distributed in Colombo in cooperation with Sri Lankan Red Cross Society (SRCS).[60]The team will supervise the distribution of the aid on the remaining affected governorates.KRCS would build and reconstruct a number of the damaged homes in various governorates.The total aid offered to the Sri Lankan governorates reached 4,000 food parcels and 4,000 cooking and personal hygiene substances. [61]

As of December 4, 2017, the cyclone had caused 27[62]confirmed deaths, with a further 77 injured; the Disaster Management Center reported 123,217 people of 35,354 families in 16 districts as having been affected, with 5,650 individuals of 1,424 displaced families having been provided shelter at 65 emergency welfare centers.[57] 823 houses were reported completely destroyed, with a further 32,347 sustaining damage to varying degrees.[57]


Rescue teams from Kerala and Tamil Nadu stepped up efforts on December 2 to trace fishermen reported missing after Cyclone Ockhi, even as protests continued in coastal areas over the tardy response of government agencies. Edappadi K. Palaniswami encouraged Rajnath Singh to involve the Navy and Coast Guard in search operations.Mr.Krishna Kumar gave nearly 2500 crores to the Tamil Nadu Government to help the family of fishermen who were without money. [63] Hailing the efforts of the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said 400 fishermen stranded at sea had been rescued. As many as 12 boats with 138 fishermen had reached Kalpeni in Lakshadweep while four more boats had berthed at Androth, Kithan and Chatlet in Lakshadweep. Lakshadweep islands met devastation with massive coastal erosion, power disruption, and extensive damage to property with life has been gouged out of the islands because of drinking water shortage. The Indian Navy provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to people affected by cyclone Ockhi in Lakshadweep. Navy ships carried the relief material to the island of Minicoy on Sunday and the Kavaratti and Kalpeni islands.[64] A total of four tonnes of disaster relief material, including dry provisions like rice, dal, salt and potatoes, water, blankets, raincoats, disposable clothes, mosquito nets and dhurries, had been handed over to the local administration. Dry provisions and ready to eat meals are also being dispatched to Bitra Island by chopper from the Dweeprakshak (base) at Kavaratti. The relief material would last seven days for about 2,000 people, according to the government.[65] Tamil Nadu government December 6 told as many as 4,501 houses in cyclone Ockhi-hit Kanyakumari have suffered partial and full damage and relief to the tune of ₹41 lakh had been provided. A government release quoted 1,687 houses had been damaged completely while 2,814 houses had suffered partial damage.[66] Government officials have said that 33,000 people in Kerala and 2,800 in Tamil Nadu have been affected by the cyclone so far. The Centre said 39 people have lost their lives and another 167 were missing after Cyclone Ockhi engulfed parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Multiple rescue operations were being conducted across Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep where authorities are also trying to locate the missing people. Officials said that 74 fishermen are estimated to be missing in Tamil Nadu and 93 in Kerala. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan declared a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to the families of those who died in the aftermath of the cyclone and Rs 5 lakh to those who have been permanently disabled. The chief minister declared that those engaged in fishing will get Rs 60 per day and their children will be paid Rs 45 a day as allowance in the next one week along with free ration will also be given to the residents of the affected coastal villages for a month.[67] Due to huge losses from the cyclone, the Kerala government decided to maintain a registry of its fishermen and install GPS and other tracking systems as well as life-saving gadgets on their vessels to limit damages in the wake of natural calamities. The state government’s rescue and relief efforts came under fire from the residents of coastal belt who staged protests, alleging the response to the crisis was tardy.[68] Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath donated Rs five crores from the Chief Minister Distress Relief Fund to Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for the Cyclone Ockhi affected people in Lakshadweep and other states. [69] Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar announced an assistance of Rs one crore to the Lakshadweep islands ravaged by the calamity. [70]

Indian Government Controversy

Chief Minister of Kerala complained that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a negligent attitude towards states ruled by the Left.[71] The complaint was that in the matter of Ockhi and the natural calamity that followed, the Centre had a different attitude.[71] The Centre inquired with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister about the situation but did not inquire about Kerala.[71] Members of the fishing community blocked Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's car when he visited Vizhinjam, a fishing village near Thiruvananthapuram.[72] They claimed that the state did not do enough to warn fishermen on November 29 – when the cyclone was still forming near Sri Lanka – not to venture out into the sea. Officials in the Kerala Disaster Management Authority attempted to shift blame to the India Meteorological Department, which they say only issued a fishing advisory and not a cyclone warning on November 29.[72] Sekhar Kuriakose, member secretary of the Kerala Disaster Management Authority, issued a press statement on December 1 claiming that the Met department could not have issued a cyclone warning on November 29 because the cyclone was still a deep depression till noon on November 30. Several thousands of people belonging to fishermen's families in Kanyakumari protested at the district's Kuzhithurai railway station on Thursday, December 7, 2017, demanding prompt action in tracing the fishermen caught in sea due to cyclone Ockhi. Members of nine fishing villages in Kanyakumari district protested on the Kuzhiturai railway station tracks.[72] The protesters were demanding that their villages to be merged with Kerala, and the government there has done a lot in locating the missing fishermen.[73]


  1. ^ The name Ockhi, suggested by Bangladesh, refers to the eye.[1]

See also


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External links